Today we left the city of Quito and journeyed seven hours to rural Guamote. The landscape change was literally night and day.
On the way, we had an impromptu Spanish lesson, which we got to put into practice in a small town called Salceda aka "ice cream town.” It's an adorable place that primarily has ice cream stands one after the other, offering a selection of traditional Ecuadorian treats.
Back on the bus, our Spanish lessons continued. My favorite phrase we learned was "¡Una mujer con coraje es una revolución!” This means, "One woman with courage is a revolution!"
The highlight of the day was when we stopped beside Chimborazo volcano, which is the farthest location from the core of the earth and the closest place to the sun. There we visited the very first school built by Free the Children in Ecuador and spent time with the students. Although Free the Children constructed the building, the Ministry of Education of Ecuador presently runs the school. The children were VERY shy and we learned that this is a common trait among children here. We used art to help them open up, and I personally connected with a few of the girls using humor. Basically, I let them laugh at my silly attempts to translate their drawings using my limited number of Spanish words combined with grand gestures and funny faces.
When we asked the teacher about the challenges facing education in the area, he explained that the teachers receive extremely low pay, many parents don't see the benefit of an education, and the rural education often isn't applicable in cities like Quito (or abroad). I also noticed that there wasn't any use of technology, which prevents students from connecting with the world outside their community. This is a disadvantage if they want to seek higher education and could potentially limit their employment opportunities.
When I walked outside, I noticed there were hardly any houses in sight. The kids walk exceptionally far to get to school. More incredibly, their teacher travels 2 hours on the bus to come and teach the children.
I'm really excited to visit a Free the Children: Adopt a Village project tomorrow and experience firsthand a sustainable education model being implemented. Free the Children implores 5 pillars to ensure strong relationships with communities that empowers them to be self-sustaining. You can learn more about exactly what they do by visiting freethechildren.com.
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